With thanksgiving right around the corner, many parents are probably rushing around shopping and making dinner plans. Some might even wonder how they’re going to manage all the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner AND keep their little ones busy and out of trouble. One solution is to let the kids in on the cooking action to promote learning of speech and language skills, as well as providing them with exploratory opportunities for learning about different foods, textures and so much more! Some important topics that can be easily covered during Thanksgiving (or any other meal) preparations are:
Sequencing – Recipes are an excellent way to target sequencing. Children can make inferences about what ingredients might be needed, or sequence the entire activity such as “First, we need to get our ingredients out, then mix, then it goes in the oven to bake” etc.
Categorization – Children can sort recipes into categories such as: dinner, appetizer, desserts or within a recipe older children can categorize ingredients into dairy, dry ingredients versus wet ingredients etc.
Vocabulary can be targeted all through the entire activity by introducing children to new words, or by playing a synonyms/ antonyms game (what’s a synonym for sweet?/ what’s an antonym for sour?). Name 5 foods that are white like flour? Etc.
Sensory seekers and children who have texture aversions can also benefit from exposure to new things in the kitchen. For youngsters who might be very aversive, sometimes just observing parents or older siblings interact and manipulate various foods can be an important first step in realizing that there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. In these cases it is also helpful for parents to describe items’ color, smell and texture to their children.
I hope that everyone enjoys preparing at least one mealtime with their learners!